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A squadron of Dutch warships are shown at anchor, on the left, off a rocky coastline. The foremost ship appears to be drying her sails and there are a number of sailors in the rigging. She flies the Dutch flag. In the distance the sea is smooth and even, rendered in sombre, dark grey. By contrast, in the foreground, the water swells and furls into taut, white-peaked waves. In the right foreground, having rowed ashore, a group of men are forming a landing party on the small beach. Their ship's boat is anchored in shallow water nearby. The painting is divided compositionally in two with land on the right and the ships at anchor on the left. On the right, sheer cliffs rise above the rocks. Through the rocks, a torrent flows down to the sea from the higher ground. The topography, on the right, is forbidding with precipitous rocks and conifers growing amongst the outcrops and on the cliff top. A pathway leads up the steep cliffs with mountain goats visible at the top. Collectively, the figures of the landing party enact a narrative in which the goats are shot, skinned and taken aboard to feed the ships’ crew. De Vlieger’s keen interest in picturing animals led him to produce several pen drawings of mountain goats which he, later, incorporated into his landscape paintings.
Dutch Ships Revictualling off a Rocky Coast
oil on panel
H 53.4 x W 99 cm